Marketing and policy teams both say they want to collaborate more but admit there’s too little interaction today
As people increasingly look to brands to take the lead on environmental and social issues, marketers understand that they should seek greater input from policy teams.
Marketers will have to work more closely with in-house policy teams not only to help brands avoid regulatory scrutiny but also to meet society’s rising expectations.
Nine out of 10 marketers agree that it is increasingly important to have input from the policy team in order to meet society’s changing brand expectations and demands for companies to help solve the world’s many challenges.
New research from WFA with input from global PR firm, Edelman, and released at Global Marketer Week in Lisbon today, highlights the demand on both sides for greater interaction, with 87% of policy experts and 68% of marketers wanting to see greater collaboration.
Today’s reality, however, is that 65% of policy executives said they felt there was too little interaction between the two teams, a view supported by 43% of marketers.
Most marketers see the value that policy teams bring in avoiding regulatory challenges, with 65% of marketers able to think of a time when the policy team helped avoid regulatory scrutiny.
But marketers think even more dialogue and collaboration between policy and marketing will be required in the future when it comes to brand purpose (51%), building stakeholder trust (57%), company purpose (57%), risk management (66%), brand safety (69%), data collection and privacy (74%) and corporate reputation and responsible marketing (both 80%).
The findings are based on responses from 97 marketers and policy experts representing 50 WFA member companies and a collective advertising spend of more than US $60 billion.
Making greater co-operation a reality, however, means addressing big cultural challenges between the teams. Many marketers feel policy professionals do not understand the challenges they are up against (54% agree) while policy professionals feel misunderstood to an even greater extent, with 76% of policy respondents stating that marketers do not understand the challenges they face.
Policy executives felt marketers would describe them as “compliance officers” (48%), “regulatory firefighters” (41%), “business partners” (41%), and “regulatory safeguarders” (41%). They weren’t far off as those were the top phrases marketers chose: 58% described them as “compliance officers”, 50% as “regulatory safeguarders”, 45% as “business partners”, and 45% as “regulatory firefighters”.
Marketers felt their policy colleagues would describe them as “business-focused” (71%), “risk-takers/boundary pushers” (58%), and “creative” (53%). In reality, 74% of policy executives described marketers as “business-focused”, 57% described them as “creative”, and 45% described them as “short-termist”.
“The prevailing perception is that marketing is more creative and business-minded while the policy function is focused on compliance and regulation. But this can and should evolve; there is an opportunity for policy professionals to demonstrate the value they can bring to the business in more compelling and creative ways, positioning themselves as strategic advisors with unique insights which can contribute to bottom line growth,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA.
Other findings from the research include:
97% of policy people say they can do more to make their agenda more compelling to marketers.
Marketers welcome some input from policy teams on brand positioning, but few see it is as essential. While 17% said input is essential, a far greater number said some input was welcome (31.4%), while others (37%) said it could be helpful at times but wasn’t crucial.
Less than 45% of marketers see policy people as business partners and only 34% see them as strategic advisors.
Stephen Kehoe, Global Chair, Practices, Sectors & IP, Edelman commented: “Consumer and stakeholder expectations that brands will continue to invest in relevancy, including values and purpose, has never been higher. Delivering on this requires a whole-enterprise approach, especially joined-up thinking between marketers and public affairs professionals. In this new era of the belief-driven buyer, non-alignment between these two powerful sets of brand ambassadors presents a major risk to a company’s reputation.